The Eyes Don’t Have It

As we age, the biggest threat to maintaining high-quality eyesight is, of course, my butt.

Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here.

A common complaint of aging is of the diminution of the senses: hearing, vision . . .uh, color, is it? And . . .um . . . a couple others?

Also memory. But we’ll cover that in a separate essay. Or did I already?

Aaaany way, let’s take a hard, somewhat blurry look at vision!

The eyes, it is said, are the gateway to the heart. Also, a window on the soul. While there’s long been disagreement on whether they’re a gateway or a window, either one is bound to cause a draft. So shut your eyes when you come in. We’re not air conditioning the whole neighborhood! If you kids are cold, put on a sweater!

It remains unknown if aging prehistoric humans experienced vision degeneration, as their lifespans were so short, usually they were dead long before they’d seen anything interesting.

The earliest evidence of the use of corrective visual aid devices, according to Wikipedia (Tagline: “Hey, what the Hell do we know?”) is by Emperor Nero as recorded in the writings of Roman philosopher and naturalist Pliny the Elder, also known behind his back as Pliny the Nerd or Pliny Four Eyes. Probably the first eyeglasses were developed in Venice, Italy at the start of the 14th Century. But they were poorly made and of inferior quality giving rise to the term “Venetian blinds.” However, within a mere few short centuries eyeglasses had greatly improved, and their burgeoning trade distribution resulted in historically low incidents of people worldwide bumping into each other.

Benjamin Franklin, famed statesman, scientist, and 100-dollar-bill, is credited with inventing bifocals, one of his many popular inventions that to this day remains in focus.

In more modern times, eyeglasses have grown both sturdy and stylish thanks to a tepid handshake between Science and Fashion. Which, conveniently, brings us back to my butt.

Without going into the details which would exhaust me, I needed to replace my eyeglasses when, through a confluence of Chaplinesque antics that involved a scalding cup of coffee, my tablet and cell phone, the living room sofa, bare feet, and a sharp-edged dog chew bone, (“Now With the Meaty Flavor of Bacon!”) I sat on them.

I don’t think chicken-flavored would have made a difference.

Carrying the remnants of my glasses, now twisted into a Caulder mobile, and wearing my horn-rimmed, electrical tape-repaired, back-back-backup glasses from high school, I cautiously drove to my local vision center at two miles per hour with the emergency blinkers flashing.

First stop, my ophthalmologist (from the Greek ophthalmos, meaning “Just squint!”) After testing my vision with his eye chart, then dilating my eyes with a concoction of battery acid and cinnamon, he wheeled over the Big Honkin’ Eye-Checking Machine, which is the size and shape of the entire Chicago Adler Planetarium only with more ample parking.

My corrected vision, I learned, is quite good for someone my age who still has his original eyeballs. My visual acuity – that is, a person’s ability to discern shapes and details – measures 20/10. This means that what you mere Earthlings with your paltry 20/20 vision read at 10 feet, I can distinguish waaaay back here at 20 feet Much like all the superior beings from my home world of Krypton!

Feeling rather cocky and dilated, I moved on to the glasses-selecting portion of the office. That’s when things got ugly. Literally, because I look awful in glasses! Always have. This is due to the shape of my face. Generally speaking, common face shapes include oval, round, diamond, square, and heart. My face is kinda Idaho-shaped but with a more liberal voting record.

For older men, hip, chic eyeglasses range from inappropriate to downright frightening.

I began trying on eyeglasses frames, which was pointless. I couldn’t see how they looked on me – BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE ON MY EYEGLASSES! Fortunately, technician Cyndi was there to advice.

DAVE: (Slipping on murky, out-of-focus frames he can’t quite make out.) “What’d’ya think of these, Cyndi?”

CYNDI: (Politely sidestepping the question.) “Have you seen these over here? They’re very popular.”

DAVE: “Soooo . . . not these?”

CYNDI: “They’re nice. (Turning to another display.) These would frame your face nicely. And make you look—”

DAVE: “—less like a World War II Panzer tank commander?”

CYNDI: (Polite pause.) A little, yes.”

DAVE: “How about these?”

CYNDI: (Polite long pause.) “Those . . . those are coasters.”

DAVE: (Polite ignorant pause.) “I see . . . I see. Well, I don’t see see, but I see. If you know what I mean.”

CYNDI: (Polite dealing-with-a-madman pause.) “Yes, I see.”
With Cyndi’s professional, calm, and polite guidance, I soon was fitted with a rather fetching pair of Science- and Fashion-approved full-rim, silver metal frames that made me look less Karl Malden-esque.

Later, as she cleaned the lenses and placed them reverently in a small sarcophagus embossed with a designer mark, I asked if anyone else had ever sat on their glasses.

CYNDI: “Oh gosh, yes! People break their glasses all sorts of ways. I had a woman back up her car over her husband’s glasses!”

DAVE: “Was he wearing them at the time?”

CYNDI: (Polite backing away pause.) “Well, no. They. . . they slid off the car roof.”
That was a reasonable question, right? Right?

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